The Wallace Collection

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Smallsword
  • Smallsword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • HIlt- Paris, France; blade- probably Solingen, Germany
  • c. 1655
  • Iron, steel and gold, gilded and chiselled
  • Length: 82.8 cm
    Width: 2.2 cm
    Weight: 0.635 kg
  • Inscription: '. FRANCISCO . PICINIO .' Name four times repeated
  • A685
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Smallsword, the hilt made up of a flattened spherical pommel chiselled with classical figures, busts and interlaced scrollwork in relief, and large button; wire-bound grip swelling at the centre; short quillons chiselled in the round in the form of terminal busts, the escutcheon bearing oval panels of classical figures chiselled in relief on a gilt ground; shell-guard with two oval panels containing representations of classical scenes flanked with seated figures and scrollwork, finely chiselled in relief on a gold ground; the inner face has the same compositions, but in lower relief; short, tapering blade of hexagonal section changing to diamond section towards the point, doubly grooved at the forte, and incised with the name (four times repeated) on a gilt ground:

    . FRANCISCO . PICINIO .

    A knuckle-guard has been added at some time and removed later.

    About 1655; hilt French (Paris); blade probably German (Solingen).

    L' Art Ancien 26.

    Provenance: Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    Norman, 1967, illus. 3; Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 203 and 239. A very similar hilt was in the Meyrick Collection (Skelton, pl. CVIII) and was probably from the same hand.

    The signature is a corruption of Picinino, the sobriquet of a Milanese family, the Marliani, of which Giovanni Antonio and his son Federico were noted swordsmiths (cf. nos. A540, 626, 646, 661) in the 16th century. There is a rapier signed ‘Francesco Picinino’, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and the form Francisco Pichinio is found in the Porte de Hal, Brussels (V. 156), and in the Kuppelmayr sale, Munich, March, 1895, lot 334. A stiletto with this name and dated 1727 was sold at Cologne in 1892 (Z.H.W.K. VI, 26). The forms Pichinio, Picinio, Picinnium, are almost certainly imitations of the name and more frequently occur in the case of Antonio Picinio were in the B. Redfern sale, Sotheby's, 20 June, 1934, lot 22 (dated 1613), and in the Morosini sale, New York, 11 October, 1932, lot 570.

    For a note on the Picinino family, see A540.